LISTOWEL – A new website and short videos are now available to area farmers and agricultural workers following a successful fundraiser and mental health awareness campaign hosted by the Listowel Agricultural Society in 2019.
The website www.thefarmerstoolbox.ca is dedicated to offering current and important information as well as key resources to help those living in rural areas, especially farmers, to address mental health challenges and find the tools they need.
The group hosted a fundraiser called Dinner on Tremaine which raised over $13,000 through individual ticket purchases and event sponsorship all with the same goal – to improve awareness and mental health support for farmers in Perth County and the surrounding rural areas.
Some of the funds were used to produce an impactful, short documentary to help normalize conversations around mental health within the agriculture community.
The video features local farmers speaking openly about their personal experiences and thoughts on mental health. The video is accessible on the front page of the website which became available to the public on Oct. 8.
“Sixty-seven per cent of farmers are less resilient to handle the stressors around them (than the general population) … We’re used to solving our own problems,” said Steve Dolson of Legacy Farms.
The website gathers important resources and key tools from provincial and local health organizations such as crisis lines, counselling services, news articles, podcasts and training sessions so that they are easily accessible to farmers.
A portion of the funds raised at Dinner on Tremaine were also used to create a scholarship for someone going into the mental health field, provide funding for local fire departments for mental health training as well as subsidizing the cost of mental health training for farmers, farm employers and those within the agriculture industry.
This training was attended by approximately 40 participants in January and February of this year. The organizers plan to offer the course again in 2021 and will post all upcoming sessions and events on the website.
“Rural and farming communities face increased barriers to accessing mental health resources and we are hoping that this website helps to mitigate some of those challenges and normalize these conversations,” said Alanna Coneybeare of Conlee Farms Inc., a Dinner on Tremaine committee member.